Monday, May 19, 2014

Monumental Month, Marker, and Model

 "There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die..." 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a

You may have noticed (all 40 of you [insert chuckle]--and God bless you, by the way), that I have not posted in weeks--over a month, actually.  A lot has happened in the last month...we celebrated Easter, my band had five gigs, I went to visit my grandparents, we attended a few graduation parties, I've led worship at my church three times, I took a three-day business trip to Omaha, NE with my husband (A.K.A., "T-bone"), we celebrated T-bone's grandpa Andy's 102nd birthday, my daughter and her husband came for a visit, and T-bone took me to an art walk and three concerts (much more relaxing than being "on" the stage)!  Inside that chaotic schedule, I've managed, with God's help, to maintain a near-daily quiet time with Him, have lunch with two girlfriends, manage our finances, help T-bone with a ton of yard-work, get to the gym and/or run three times a week, and go on two, 16-18 mile bike rides with my hubby.  The housework and the laundry have suffered some though (thank God I'm married to a man who is totally happy and content if he's fed and loved, and whose expectations of me never surpass those two requirements).  I've also noticed that the data storage in my brain has reached its limit.  Therefore, my bi-weekly blog-posting goal had to go.  In response to the verse above:  if there really IS, "a time for everything," I'd like to know where the heck to find it!

One other big happening or "marker" this past month was that I turned 44-years old.  Though that is not typically denoted as a monumental birthday, it was for me.  For as long as I can remember, the number, "44," has always reminded me of the first time I asked my, "Gram," as I nick-named her, how old she was.  I was just four years old, sitting on a bar stool at her kitchen counter watching her make cookies (Oatmeal Scotchies, as I recall).  I even remember what she was wearing--a peach-colored, stiff polyester, nicely tailored, Jackie Kennedy-styled dress (yes, I'm a detail person), with black horn-rimmed glasses (it was 1974, after all)!  She told me she was 44-years old, and I remember staring quietly at her at length and thinking, "Wow.  My Gram is OLD!"  So a few weeks ago, when I became "OLD" too, I thought of this incident, chuckled, and then became deeply depressed!  On a brighter note, I've always thought it was cool that my, "Gram" and I are 40-years apart--it's always made it easy to remember how old she is.  Back in February, I celebrated her 84th birthday with her, and knew upon realizing her age that my special, "OLD" birthday was coming.  Well, it came.  As they say, age is an undefeated victor (don't ask me who, "they" are--I Googled the quote and cannot find that answer).  As my mom says, birthdays are, "better than the alternative."

My Gram is one of the most beloved people in my life.  She is a brown-eyed, brown-haired beauty just like my mother and my daughter.  She is always smiling--even when the chips are totally down.  She never complains.  She always wants to give you something--you will rarely leave her home without something in-hand.  She is a fiercely gifted cook.  She loves nature and God's beauty.  She taught me the names of hundreds of trees, plants, and flowers, and instilled in me a deep appreciation and love for them all.  She adores travel and long, Sunday car rides.  Before her massive stroke in 1996 that left her wheelchair-bound and without the use of her entire right side, she was one of those freakishly gifted pianists who could hear a song, and then sit down at the piano and play it exactly as she heard it.  We used to beg her emphatically to play for us! She could have made a killing off that gift had she not had eight children to raise (and she did that selflessly and with flare).  I look forward to the day when I arrive in heaven with her (or she with me, should I happen to beat her to the punch), and I get to hear her play again and sing along.  She loves her family above everything and everyone else, other than the Lord.  One day about 20 years ago, I recall helping her weed her garden and asking her, "Gram, why don't you have any girlfriends?"  Her reply humbled and astounded me, "Well, I haven't ever found anyone very faithful or loyal, I guess.  People are awfully fickle. family members are my friendsBlood is thicker than water, you know?!" and she gave me a wink, a chuckle, and a smile.  She could have gone into the torrid details of betrayal and gossiping, critical women who soured her on friendship.  Instead, she just left it with a light-hearted, honest, joyful remark about family.  Besides my mother, this woman whom I call, "Gram," has been the most influential woman in my life.  She is a role-model to be revered.  I adore her to a level that terrifies me because I am ever-aware of the fact that her days with me are numbered (forgive me for being the, "Debbie-downer" here--I guess my, "old lady" birthday has me thinking about life, death, and other such existentially vaporous matters).  Happy birthday to me.

To further exacerbate my recent state-of-mind, the Head Pastor of my church, Jim Congdon, along with the Pastor of Community, Hunter Ruch, began a new sermon series on Easter Sunday called, "So You're Dead...Now What?"  This series, though greatly about death, is also largely about heaven.  The matters discussed in these sermons have sparked a great many questions and thoughts in my small, easily-overwhelmed, little mind.  As always, Pastors Jim and Hunter have done an incredible job of both educating and encouraging our church body on these subjects.  But it's also put me on a strange, private spiritual journey on death and heaven that I'd like to share with you in my next blog post or two--we'll see if I can manage one (and I guess it will no longer be, "private")!  Surprisingly, it's all got me thinking...maybe birthdays aren't better than the alternative.  Til next time...whenever that may be...God bless, family and friends!
My Gram~senior high school picture; circa 1948.

Four generation photo of Gram, Mom, me, & my only child, Allie, at Allie's wedding; circa Nov. 19, 2011.